SHORT STORY WRITER
Keith W. Lofthouse
When I decided to write the stories the ideas came to me in a flash! In a few weeks I had almost 100 ideas and fragments of ideas to choose from and I knew at least 25 of those would develop into stories of an eclectic range. Murder motivates several of these yarns but I am also intrigued by the mindset of criminals. Most of us would rather rip off our right hands than be deprived of our freedom and so crime is committed by morons who seemingly have never heard of DNA. To me these stories never seem "finished." I review and edit them at every opportunity, even after they have been sent off to judges ~ and in some cases, won prizes. I will never be a novelist. I haven't the patience to write incidental detail such as someone picking up a phone and putting it down again. I love animals, so dogs and cats are something of a trademark. I like people too. The idiosyncracises of human nature inspire Larry David, Seinfeld and Frazier and they fascinate me. What follows are some teasers from each of the stories now completed. Most, but not all, are from the opening paragraphs ~ but none, I assure you, are from The End.
Blood Red and the Eighth Dwarf
The shattered fragments of a concrete garden gnome jutted like islands in a sea of red beside Jack McKenzie’s mangled head. A plastic flyswat caked in blood was glued to his wispy grey hair.
Cutting Board Killer
Grace Mollett wasn’t a “killer” in the literal sense but she had hatched a diabolical plan to ensure her tormenter, with any luck, would wind up in hospital for at least a week if only to relieve a smidgeon of her pain.
Crown for the Coronet
Gavin Klein always liked to be a step ahead and was furious when he learned about the Coronet coup by telegram. He could have bought the old fleapit opposite the Paradise for five times the price Davis paid; he could have gutted the place and, one day, turn it into a multiplex. He would choke the Coronet to death and swoop as Frankie Davis was drawing his last breath. That was his resolve.
Nick Brady had been hurtling downhill on his brand new Canondale Canon but a blind bend in the road concealed a twisted tree branch that had been brought down by fierce winds.
“Bullet” Brady, as the press had dubbed him, was confident he could win gold in the 50 kilometre road race at the Olympics in Rio. He was just as certain that, after the Games, he would marry his Aussie teammate Abigail Clarke as they had planned, on a magnificent palm-canopied beach at Angra dos Reis. They had training and competitive cycling in common and glittering careers ahead. Their happiness seemed assured. But now he sat morose and bitter, on wheels and casters, in the rehabilitation ward at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital – Paraplegic Plaza, as it was commonly known.
At 5.53pm, death row fell silent as one by one TVs and radios were switched off in an eerie salute to he who went first. If De M&M cared, he might have asked his brothers to chill because in the distance, the sound of crashing doors and gates grew louder as Warden Reynolds and his death squad passed through a network of sally ports. They were coming to get him.
Down to Earth
The primitive lift shuddered to a halt somewhere between the 10th and 11th floors, which triggered an alarming shower of debris, clattering onto the roof. In the jolt of this sudden stop, the sinking feeling experienced by the occupants seemed somewhat incongruous, but when the awkward silence ended it was not the boss of Flyby Airways who spoke first but the cleaning lady.
Lost Little Superman
The more he drank of cheap booze, the less he tolerated the taste and the company of “winos.” But when he clambered onto the tracks and felt the vibrations of an oncoming train he longed for the numbing stupor that beckons courage. He would need to be TV’s Man of Steel, “more powerful than a locomotive,” when it struck.
“Be immortalised,” the ad read seductively in the gay magazine I had slipped between the broadsheets to fool the newsagent. “Award winning artist, 23, requires young models with good physiques...” The creep responded to my detailed email with unseemly haste and accepted me for the job sight unseen. They usually did. “Tall, smooth honey blonde, blue eyes, gym fit; 18 years of age.” Such descriptions ignite the imagination of gay guys. Even straight guys, like me, might check out someone like that, just to compare, of course.
Nuts at Christmas
The thought of giving up Christmas and a Boxing Day Test Match to help care for an ageing mother-in-law, who could no longer distinguish between Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, appalled the big man behind Brian Muller Motors.
Old Lady’s Dream
The winds of August are howling outside and Meggy suppresses a shiver by pulling up the blankets and switching off the light. She likes to listen for Lady, but this night an old lady’s dream would not be heard above the storm.
The Other Side of the Fence
Mickey Morris was a gardener, and a pretty nifty one at that, but it was hard work in the simmer of summer and the wintry of winter and so he latched onto a little larceny to help supplement his meagre returns. Mickey’s mentor was Crab Callow, sometimes known as Kit Kat Callow because Crab had his pincers into everything and was known to shakedown vending machines in his spare time, angling for the chokkies to drop.
Pin Back Your Ears And Smile
Geoffrey cautiously placed the hair-dryer at the flat end of the bath and switched on the current. He watched gloomily as the steam rose from the hot running water and likened it to a spirit rising; a life drifting away.
Lydia Carroll-Lewis’s meetings always started exactly at 9.11am because the numbers held a weird – some say sub-human – fascination for her. She was such a stickler for punctuality that she had once scolded her cat in front of a house guest and denied it food when not at its bowl at 5.55pm - the designated feed time before the six o’clock news.
The Sheriff of Rottenham
Owen Hankin hated boiled potatoes and stew. His father drank too much and his mother smoked too much and he really hated when they fought. But the shy boy never knew hatred of a fellow human being until his eighth year in 1956 when Tom Sheriff descended on Waverley Primary, like a hawk swooping on a defenceless bunny.
Snitch In The Ditch
The witness stood on the edge of the gravesite that he himself had dug. The terror he had suffered was reason enough to keep quiet but he had been led like a lamb to imminent slaughter and the need to resist niggled like a weeping sore.
Strangers on a Plane
The head of the White Caviar Task Force had warned Barbero that he could be tracked down anywhere in the world. “Even in Greenland we have Interpol!” he blustered. So, in preparation for “anywhere” he had transferred funds to both hemispheres – but not to Greenland where he would be as conspicuous as a blow fly in a glass of milk. Barbero would need luck if his deception was to succeed – luck and timing. He needed the stranger to drink up when the meal was served two hours before their expected landing.
Kenny Carter didn’t arouse much suspicion at first, but he certainly turned a few heads. His skirts were too short; his hair too high. He might not have looked much out of place in Sydney’s King Cross or Melbourne’s Fitzroy Street, but in quiet country towns he was an oddity – too long in the legs and too broad in the shoulders to be immune from the stares of local machos and matrons.
Terror by Torchlight
Janet leaned forward to peer through the insect-spattered windscreen but could not be sure - is it a roo, injured or dead, and what if it is a female with a joey struggling for life in her pouch? She felt the need to investigate, but recent media reports had highlighted a disturbing spate of after dark car-jackings in which drivers had rushed to the aid of people they presumed were victims of accidents, their bodies sprawled on the verge of otherwise deserted roads...
To Kill A Snapdragon
Harold sank deeper into the warm, soothing water, but as his eyelids drooped he felt that there was something out of place. Why was the hair-dryer perched so precariously on the vanity unit so close to the bath? It had been fixed to a power point next to her shower, so why was it plugged into his socket – the one he used to shave?